Peru is a constitutional, multiparty republic. President Pedro Castillo assumed the presidency in July, succeeding President Francisco Sagasti, after winning the June 6 presidential runoff, in elections that observers characterized as free and fair. Legislative elections took place concurrently to elect the 130-member, single-chamber parliament.
The Peruvian National Police report to the Ministry of Interior and maintain internal security. The Peruvian Armed Forces, reporting to the Ministry of Defense, are responsible for external security in addition to some domestic security responsibilities in designated emergency areas and in exceptional circumstances. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over security forces. There were credible reports that members of security forces committed some abuses.
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of serious government corruption at all levels, including in the judiciary; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence; and sex and labor trafficking.
The government took steps to investigate and, in some cases, prosecute or otherwise punish public officials accused of abuses and corruption, including high-level officials. Nonetheless, corruption and a perception of impunity remained prevalent and were major public concerns.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties
The constitution provides for freedom of expression, including for members of the press and other media, and the government generally respected this right. An independent press and a functioning democratic political system generally promoted freedom of expression, including for members of the media.
Freedom of Expression for Members of the Press and Other Media, Including Online Media: Several organizations, including the Institute of Press and Society (IPYS), EU Electoral Observation Mission, Ombudsman’s Office, and Ethics Tribunal of the Peruvian Press, noted biased coverage of the second-round electoral campaign by most Lima-based national press outlets. The EU report described the role of “most private media coverage” as “clearly biased in favor of Fujimori and against Castillo, without distinction between facts and opinion, undermining the right to truthful information.” The Ethics Tribunal of the Peruvian Press expressed concern for “headlines […] that did not match the facts, interested opinions disguised as impartial analysis, and an unequal coverage of presidential campaign events in time and substance,” further warning that “this behavior seriously damaged citizens’ trust in the Peruvian press.” Controversial actions included the May dismissal of leading television channel America Television’s journalism director and the resignation of the hosts and reporters who worked in its premier political weekly show. The resigning staff accused the channel of demanding they provide biased coverage in favor of candidate Keiko Fujimori.
Violence and Harassment: IPYS, the Association of Foreign Press of Peru (APEP), and the Ombudsman’s Office denounced aggression and intimidation towards journalists who covered second-round campaign events in May and June as well as postelection political rallies in June and July.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: In August IPYS and APEP criticized the Castillo administration for limiting press access to official government events such as the swearing in of cabinet ministers. The Sagasti and Castillo governments limited press access to high-level events based on COVID-19 restrictions. In early December President Castillo reopened press access to the government palace.
Nongovernmental Impact: NGO representatives reported local figures linked to a wide array of political and economic interests threatened press freedom by intimidating local journalists who reported on those activities. This was particularly acute in areas with a strong presence of illegal activities.
b. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The constitution provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights. Freedom of assembly may be suspended in areas of the VRAEM and La Pampa emergency zones, where elements of the Militarized Communist Party of Peru, drug traffickers, and illegal miners operated.
Freedom of Peaceful Assembly
The law does not require a permit for public demonstrations, but organizers must report the type of demonstration planned and coordinate its intended location with authorities. The constitution specifies the rights of freedom of unarmed assembly and association.
The government may restrict or prohibit demonstrations at specific times and places to ensure public safety and health. Police used tear gas and force occasionally to disperse protesters in various demonstrations. Although most demonstrations were peaceful, protests in some areas turned violent, resulting in one death as of November. In the context of the presidential elections in June, minor clashes between groups of protesters occurred, without evidence of improper use of force by police.
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.
In-country Movement: The government maintained emergency zones including restrictions on movement in the VRAEM due to the presence of the Militarized Communist Party of Peru, and in La Pampa, due to illegal mining activities. These illegal actors at times interrupted the free movement of persons by establishing roadblocks in sections of the VRAEM. Individuals protesting extractive industry projects also occasionally established roadblocks throughout the country.
The Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Population’s National Registry for Displaced Persons recognized 59,846 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country, most of whom were victims of the 1980-2000 internal conflict. The registration and accreditation of IDPs provided for their protection, care, and humanitarian assistance during displacement, return, or resettlement. According to the government’s Reparations Council, some IDPs who were victims of the 1980-2000 internal conflict experienced difficulties registering for reparations due to a lack of proper identity documents.
The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern.
More than one million foreign-born persons, including immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, lived in the country as of November. Venezuelans were by far the largest nationality, numbering 1.29 million, according to government officials. On July 4, the Council of Ministers approved the implementing regulations for providing temporary status (carnet de permiso temporal, or CPP) to more than 350,000 irregular migrants of any nationality who registered with the National Migration Superintendency. The superintendency was reviewing these applications and issuing a one-year temporary migration status to the irregular migrants who applied for a CPP. Beneficiaries then had up to one year to adjust to another migration status.
Access to Asylum: The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for protecting refugees. The government cooperated with UNHCR and recognized the Peruvian Catholic Migration Commission as the official provider of technical assistance to refugees. The commission also advised persons who sought asylum based on a fear of persecution. The government protected refugees on a renewable, year-to-year basis in accordance with commission recommendations.
Durable Solutions: The government does not have a formalized integration program for refugees, but it received persons recognized as refugees by other nations, granted refugee status to persons who applied from within the country, and provided some administrative support toward their integration. UNHCR provided these refugees with humanitarian and emergency aid, legal assistance, documentation, and, in exceptional cases, voluntary return and family reunification.
Temporary Protection: As of June, the government had provided temporary protection to 560,000 individuals since 2017 while they awaited a decision on their refugee status. Nearly all were Venezuelans. On July 7, the government published a ministerial resolution to allow Venezuelan asylum seekers to apply for a humanitarian residency status while their asylum applications remained active with the foreign ministry. Humanitarian residency status holders may be employed or work independently. The migratory status, different from the CPP temporary residence permit, authorizes a residence of 183 days and is renewable if the conditions of vulnerability for which this residency was granted persist.